Sunday, September 02, 2007

I've got Hairy Legs, and I'm Looking for Love!


A year ago, I learned that our part of the San Francisco Bay Area is home to tarantulas and that autumn is mating season for these fine furry fellows. For my birthday last year, I dragged everyone out tarantula hunting. Sadly, though, we went out too late in the season and saw no tarantulas.

I had to wait a year, but today I got to see my first wild tarantula. I went out hiking with Ken-ichi (a Flickr friend), and some of his pals, with the goal of seeing amorous male tarantulas. The weather was blazing, the hike was done at a good clip, and we didn't see a single tarantula on the trail.

Failing that, we drove up and down Mount Diablo, scrutinizing every single thing along the side of the road. I'm proud to say that my "bright eyes" did not fail me, and I spotted our one and only tarantula, sauntering down the middle of the road.

Tarantulas weigh almost nothing. They feel like velvet. They are quite docile and very fragile, and we were extremely careful in handling this astonishing creature.

Tarantulas do not bite humans (in fact, they eat nothing bigger than crickets). When they are alarmed, they will raise their abdomen aloft, and use their legs to flick their prickly hairs at their attackers. Our friend had his abdomen raised at times, but nobody went home to pluck spider hairs out of their arms.

Robb opted to spend the afternoon at the pool, instead of going spider-hunting. The trail would have been impossible for him to manage. While he was curious, he wasn't overcome with my fervor for spider snuggling.

But, oh boy! Did I enjoy my opportunity to cuddle up with this fine specimen of manhood!


Anonymous said...

No spider fans in this household. Matter of fact, my grown daughters would be screaming for their daddy if they even saw these pictures. Which by the way, are very good! Glad you got to see your spider.

Mom said...

Wow! Just last night I saw a PBS special on Death Valley and there was a section about tarantulas and their short mating season. Your pictures were great, BUT I don't think I would have one crawl over my hands like you, Lisa.

Gina said...

Unbeknownst to you, you have created THE PERFECT post with which to great Liam when he wakes for his last full day of summer before entering REAL SCHOOL! (Do you guys remember your first day of first grade?)

He will be so excited! This may even get him to overcome his fear of flying and out to visit you in the land of milk and honey. Or rather, the land of Children's Fairyland and Wild Tarantulas...

On a side note, did you guys know that in Southern Italy of old, the bite of the tarantula was considered responsible for a disease characterized by the uncontrollable urge to dance? The "tarantella" (sp?), a whilring dance from that region, is considered a cure.

Maybe I need to find me an 8-legged man!


The Little Foxes said...

Lovely!! (really!) My son and I have spent two days discussing tarantulas (not exclusively, we do have other topics of conversation going ;-)). I can't wait to show him these pics!
We had a very cool "zipper" spider living at the corner of the house who has undergone a lot of scrutiny. He packed his bags and left yesterday - I think he was sick of us staring at him ;-))

Anonymous said...

Lisa - I always look forward to reading and seeing pictures on your blog. You did not disappoint with your headline and pictures. I have never seen a "wild" tarantula - a captive "rose-kneed" opened my eyes to these lovely creatures. Perhaps I'll be able to shake "legs" with one in the wild someday.
T. of TheThreeCs

Anonymous said...

The weird thing about the photo is not that you have a big spider on your hands, it's that you are not covered up in black clothes!

PS- Tell Robb not to squash any spiders on his bike rides, ok? That might bring you bad spider kar-ma. Or bike-a. Whichever.


Anonymous said...

My Lisa, that title is such a fetching come-on... It reminds me:

One time many years ago I was making the drive to So Cal, and took a detour in the central valley off I-5 (for reasons I can't recall)through some mountains. I saw DOZENS and DOZENS of these guys crossing the road here and there! I had no idea what was going on, but it was just amazing. I also did not have the guts to get out and play like you(gosh-golly I can't get over my irrational arachnophobia), but it was so marvelous in a creepy movie, science project sort of way!!

Thanks for evoking a very cool, long forgotten memory!


. . . Lisa and Robb . . . said...

Annalisa -- the lack of dark clothes had everything to do with the blazing sun. It was 99 degrees out there!

gollygee said...

That is so cool! I love spiders, especially fuzzy ones like tarantulas! :) I didn't know that they don't bite. I thought they were poisonous... Are they like daddy long legs in that sense?

Anonymous said...

I am truly pleased you have discovered my childhood playground of Mt. Diablo. Like Anna, I have seen dozens of amorous arachnids searching for that special female (who will eat him if she gets the chance!) The male is typically quite docile. The female is more aggressive but in order to not mislead that sweet young Gollygee both the male and the female definitely bite! The male will bit when mortally threatened. Many, many years ago while camping near Rock City on Diablo, my brother was bitten as he slept. He apparently had rolled over on the poor little fellow. The tarantula’s venom is similar to that of bees. We treated the bite by packing it with mud.

In my experience, these love-blind spiders will fall for any beauty of the opposite sex so it does not surprise me that you were treated to such a friendly encounter.


Anonymous said...

Too cool and creepy!! I definitely wouldn't have the little critter climb on me. When Neil was photographing the natural builders they saw a black widow (squish). Eeeuuww. I didn't see it or you would have heard girlie shrieking all the way to Oakland.

Nice cleavage shot Ken!


Gramatrick said...

I had the good fortune of seeing a Texas Brown Tarantula in the wild yesterday!

I have to admit, I didn't pick it up or touch it in any way, but I was happy enough to see it in the little stump hiding my birthday letterbox (bonus present!)



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